The Back Road: Did the generals really believe that?

The Back Road: Did the generals really believe that?

Andrew Malekoff

How can someone with such abundant disdain for U.S. troops who have been seriously injured or killed in action, continue to be supported by millions of Americans?

Keep in mind that this is the same guy, a known draft dodger, who incites violence against anyone he thinks stands in the way of his quest to topple our democracy and install fascist rule.

As U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin noted about Trump’s violent rhetoric, “American carnage is not what Trump was running against, it was what he was running for.”

Most recently, Trump called for his former Joint Chief of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley to be put to death for “treason,” for being insufficiently loyal to him.

Trump called for his “execution” after learning of Gen. Milley’s phone call to reassure China in the aftermath of the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Around the same time at the California Republican Party Convention in Anaheim, Calif., he exercised his sadistic impulses by ridiculing Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul, the victim of a brutal hammer attack in his San Francisco home.

His mocking drew laughter from his far-right extremist MAGA crowd.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, according to The Guardian, the audience enjoyed a good laugh soon after the assault, when the gleeful Trump super-toady Kari Lake made fun of the Pelosi attack.

“Apparently, her house doesn’t have a lot of protection,” joked the craven Lake to the depraved crowd.

Perhaps the best illustration of Trump’s antagonism toward America’s wounded warriors and those who made the ultimate sacrifice can be found in remarks made by Trump’s former chief of staff Marine General John Kelly, captured by Jeffrey Goldberg in Atlantic Magazine:

“(Trump) is a person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families…and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers.'” Kelly recalled that during a Memorial Day celebration at Arlington National Cemetery in 2017 Trump turned to him and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

Predictably, Trump responded like a toddler, with a post on social media stating that Gen. Kelly is “the dumbest of my military people.” He added, “I fired him like a dog.” “No one loves the military like I do,” proclaimed Trump. “Now he speaks back by making up fake stories.” “He’s a lowlife with a very small brain and a very big mouth.”

For Trump, this is hardly new territory. His fervor for violence — including torture, extra-judicial murder, and shooting both migrants and protesters — has been a consistent feature of his politics for years, according to founder and editor-at-large of The Bulwark Charlie Sykes.

The more failed dictators feel humiliated, the more they go to the extremes, cautions historian Ruth Ben Ghiat, author of ‘Strongmen.’ “His appetite for brutality will soon become a litmus test for right-wing politicians, including any of his GOP challengers,” warned Sykes.

In another exchange with Gen. Kelly, Trump insinuated that he would be uncomfortable to be seen in public with injured troops:

“Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade,” Trump said.

“Those are the heroes,” Kelly said. “In our society, there’s only one group of people who are more heroic than they are – and they are buried over in Arlington.”

“I don’t want them,” Trump responded. “It doesn’t look good for me.”

Kelly’s 29-year-old son Lieutenant Robert Kelly was killed in action in 2010 after he stepped on a land mine while leading a squad of Marines on a patrol in Afghanistan.

Who can forget Trump’s assessment of former U.S. Sen. and Vietnam POW John McCain? “He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Kelly explained to Trump, according to NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Michael Schmidt, that all government officials took an oath “to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic”—not a pledge to one leader.

Did the generals really believe that? Trump questioned. Yes, Kelly replied, adding:

“There is nothing more that can be said. God help us.”

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